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First Minister’s Questions© PA Wire

Scotland’s First Minister has called on the Prime Minister to recognise the state of Palestine.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak on Tuesday ahead of a debate on a ceasefire in the region in Holyrood, Humza Yousaf has pushed for the UK Government to recognise Palestine within the borders set out in 1967, claiming it would help to end the “political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence”.  

A similar letter was also sent to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, urging him to back the calls.

“It is essential and urgent that the UK makes clear to the Israeli government, and to the world, that in line with support for a two-state solution, only Palestinians can have authority in Gaza,” he wrote to the Prime Minister. 

“Of course, that authority must be exercised in a way that ensures the people of Israel, as well as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, are able to live in peace and security.

“The UK needs to work with the international community to break, once and for all, the political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence. 

“This would be assisted were the UK to recognise the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, as over 130 members of the United Nations, including nine members of the European Union, have done and as the new Spanish government has pledged.

“Recognition would offer hope to Palestinians that a just and durable political solution is possible.

“It would make it plain to the Israeli government that a military solution is illusory and the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza is unacceptable.

“I urge you to show the international leadership you claim for the UK by calling for an immediate ceasefire by all sides, and by announcing the UK Government’s recognition of the state of Palestine.”

The First Minister also condemned what he described as the “gradual, but deliberate, expulsion of Palestinians from the entire territory” following a warning by the Israeli government for Palestinians to vacate the city of Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. 

The humanitarian consequences of this are hard to overstate

Humza Yousaf

“The humanitarian consequences of this are hard to overstate,” he said.

“Following the forced evacuation of the population from the north of Gaza, it reinforces the impression that what we are witnessing is the gradual, but deliberate, expulsion of Palestinians from the entire territory.

“This, of course, would likely be a breach of international law.

“The international community cannot allow this to happen.”

The UK Government, he added, should also consider referring both Hamas and Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation of any potential war crimes.

The letters come just hours before a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the situation in Gaza.

The Scottish Government has tabled a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire, which is expected to garner cross-party support. 

Scottish Labour – who have said they will support the Government in the vote on Tuesday evening – also tabled an amendment that will call for a referral to the ICC, which is expected to gain enough support to pass. Story by Craig Paton, The Independent

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